Recap: Niche Down

This is part of a series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast, to an article, to a Youtube video, to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.

Niche Down: How to Become Legendary by Being Different is a book by Christopher Lochhead and Heather Clancy. Christopher Lochhead is the host of the Legends and Losers podcast, and there is a Recap post about Episode 181. Heather Clancy is a journalist. The subtitle serves as a great synopsis of the book — it is Christopher’s and Heather’s observation of “how to become legendary by being different.”

I just finished Niche Down, and it’s fantastic. Anyone who want to do something big should read it. It’s chock full of excellent examples of people and companies who embody the mindset and approach Heather and Christopher are pushing. Many of the people don’t know either of them, and “niched down” without that term existing to describe their actions.

I did not take detailed, structured notes while reading. My notes are then, mostly my recollection of the book overall. The chapters bleed into each other. Each chapter has a main focus, but they’re interconnected.

Notes:

That by being different, doing something differently, or viewing the world and solving problems in a new way, you will stand out. In order to become legendary, have a household name, be wildly successful, whatever it is, you have to stand out, you have to be different. If you do things like everyone else, play by other people’s rules, you will not be the best. You have to set yourself apart, become a “category king or queen” and set the rules to have the majority of the marketshare for that type of item, service, etc.

You have to identify a problem you care about solving (this is important), find the solution, and sell it. This should be a problem people don’t know they have, or that you can solve in a new way. You have to tell people what the problem is, convince them it is a problem, and then explain why they should take your solution. You can’t “be a mercenary,” you have to “be a missionary.” You have to be so sold out to the problem and your solution that you don’t just gain customers, you gain followers, who are sold out to your perspective. When you do this, you become a cateogry king or queen.

Don’t make something like an existing thing. If you are doing something like someone else, you won’t stand out. You will be compared to whoever did it first. That’s not what you want. You want to redefine the problem, solve a new problem, create a new category entirely. Then people will follow your lead, your ideas, be compared to you. Most people wanting your solution will go to you, not the competitors in your category.

In winning people to your solution, evangelizing them, sharing your unique perspective is vital. You have to build social capital as well and increase your presence online. Have a digital body of work and use it to signal that existing “similar” products/companies/etc. should pay attention. That the problem and solution you are working with are important, that people care about it, and so should they.

Niching down is a scary thing. To do it, you have to go against the crowd, you have to stand out, you can’t stay in the safe zone with everyone else and their ideas. You have to position yourself as a leader rather than a follower.

Response:

There’s so much in this short book (only 110 pages) that’s so good. I could go on so many tangents.

While reading, I thought about myself, my goals, what I love in relation to the content. I found a lot of questions, but very few, if any answers to them as of yet.

I want to make money to at least partially support myself by writing. How can I niche down in that? What problem can I solve with my writing, either a finished product or my skill of writing? I know I want to stand out, I don’t want to be like everyone else, but how do I do that? When there is such a saturation of creative work nowadays with the advent of the internet, how do I stand out from a crowd of writers?

I don’t have answers now, but I’m still at the start of my journey. I only really started seriously pursuing writing earlier this year. I have time, I know that. I’m not using that as an excuse for complacency, however, just an encouragement to myself that I still have days and weeks and months and years to figure this out and refine my approach and define myself and establish my niche.

Most well-known authors are recognized by their works. Romeo and Juliet, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Raven, Inkheart, Eragon, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and others. But it depends on readers what sticks, what has staying power, what is recognizable years, decades, centuries later. (And often times publishers, at least traditionally, but self-publishing is a growing alternative that does not have any approval process limiting what becomes available to readers.)

I Missed Yesterday

This is somewhat similar to this post, but it’s been a little more than a month since then.

I didn’t post yesterday. I hadn’t scheduled any content, and wasn’t sure yet what I was going to write. There was a Praxis call that I was looking forward to. I’d decided to make my post my notes from the call.

I recently updated my computer from Ubuntu 16 something to 18.4. I had some issues with Firefox. It wouldn’t load webpages on the first try, or at all. Zoom, the Praxis call application, kept launching and crashing. I joined the call for two minutes. The computer froze. Several times.

I tried restarting it. More than once. I was getting more frustrated.

After I’d tried three times to rejoin the Praxis call after I was kicked off, I quit. I was too frustrated to continue. I didn’t want to try to fix the problem, I was too mad. I took a break. I started reading Niche Down by Christopher Lochhead and Heather Clancy.

I didn’t post or write a poem. But I had a solid 35 days of blogging first and wrote poetry off and on.

Recap: Legends and Losers Ep 181

This is a new series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast, to an article, to a Youtube video, to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.

I recently listened to episode 181 of Christopher Lochhead’s podcast Legends and Losers, “Digital Body of Work.” Lochhead shares his thoughts on episode 170, where he interviewed Isaac Morehouse, the founder of Praxis. I plan on listening to that episode soon, and will share my thoughts on it when I do.

Notes:

Morehouse really pushes this idea that you should be your own credential; college is buying it, today we should be our own.

What happens when someone googles you? See what happens.

What happens after we get googled is critical. People look online to find out about you.

Being a podcast guest is a good way for authors and thought leaders to get their name out.

Do you blog, post on social networks, podcast, have you written a book? Even if it’s not a best seller, you put in the work to put something valuable out there.

Are you on Quora? What are you doing on other social networks? What are you sharing? Are you contributing content? Do you have a TED or TEDx talk? Are your speeches available online?

Also, what are people saying about you? Are you featured somewhere?

Response:

As someone who is going to go through Praxis, I definitely think that Isaac Morehouse is right about a lot of things concerning the new job market. I also think the Praxis approach is valuable, especially as an aspiring author.

Presence is important. The community and the response to my work is important. It’s easy to think about all the various online communities I could be part of and think, “If only I had more time, I’d work on my presence there.” And in some cases, time can be an issue. If I’m spending too much time on Facebook or Discord or Quora, in excess of doing other things that are more important at the time, then it’s my fault I don’t have enough time. On the flip side, if I don’t have enough time because I’m really actually working, that’s a bit different.

Between my cowriter Justine and I for Over the Invisible Wall, we are not ready to add Twitter to our social media. We already manage the Facebook page on our own and we both have a lot of other responsibilities other that our shared blog. But for just a few extra minutes, I could make a personal Twitter and share my personal blog posts and maybe reach some people who aren’t on Facebook.

A lot of my friends aren’t necessarily taking the same steps I am now to improve their online presence and such. At least in part because of that, I don’t have a lot of social proof. I want to have people respond to my blog, or to guest write on a different blog, etc. to do that better. For now, though, I have a lot I’m working on and I’m adjusting to the workload I set on myself and balancing it with what I do for money.